Nerves extend from the brain and spinal cord, sending important messages throughout the body. A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied by the bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons surrounding it. This pressure can affect the nerve’s function and may cause pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness.

When a nerve is pinched, the initial symptoms may be localized. However, depending on the location of the injury, it can also cause pains and sensations that are far removed from the point of pressure.

Inflammation or pressure on a nerve root exiting the spine may cause neck or low back pain. It may also cause pain to radiate into the shoulder and arm, or into the leg and foot. Nerve compression in your neck or arm may also cause symptoms in areas such as your elbow, hand, wrist, and fingers.

A number of conditions may lead to a pinched nerve or nerves. Some of these may include:

  • Injury
  • Poor posture
  • Rheumatoid or wrist arthritis
  • Stress from repetitive work
  • Hobbies or sports activities
  • Obesity
pinched nerve
Damage from a pinched nerve may be minor or severe. It may cause temporary or long-lasting problems. The sooner you get treatment, the more quickly you’ll find relief. Though in some cases, the damage from a pinched nerve can’t be reversed. In such cases, treatment will typically relieve your symptoms.
In many cases, all you need to do is rest the injured area and avoid any activities that worsen your symptoms. If this isn’t helpful, the next step is conservative treatment.
conservative treatment

Conservative treatment of a pinched nerve may consist of:

  • NSAIDs – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen may reduce swelling.
  • Oral corticosteroids – These are used to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Prescription narcotics – These are used for brief periods to reduce severe pain.
  • Steroid injections – These injections may reduce swelling and allow inflamed nerves to recover.
  • Physical therapy – This will help stretch and strengthen muscles.
  • Splint – A splint or soft collar limits motion and allows muscles to rest for brief periods.

Work with your doctor to find the best approach for treating your symptoms. For more severe problems that don’t respond to other types of treatment, surgery may be recommended. For some patients, stem cell therapy may be a less invasive alternative.